About this artwork

This small oil sketch could fit inside the lid of Seurat's painting box, the perfect size for painting outside. It shows workers resting and a boy washing a horse in the Seine at Asnières, identifiable from the distant bridge and factory chimneys. The contemporary subject, strong colour and lively brushwork reflect Seurat's awareness of Impressionism. This is one of thirteen sketches, in addition to ten drawings, Seurat made while working up his monumental finished composition of 'The Bathers, Asnières' (The National Gallery, London). The painting was rejected by the Salon in 1884, but exhibited at the newly formed independent artists' group.

Georges Seurat

Georges Seurat

Seurat's distinctive paintings, famous for their 'pointillism', are often described as neo-impressionist in style. This refers to their links with, but also their development away from, Impressionism. Supported by his family and free from financial worries, Seurat studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. While sharing the Impressionists' fascination with translating light effects into paint through vibrant colour he felt that their compositions lacked structure. He was also interested in achieving a more scientific and rational approach to painting and devised the technique of using small dots of unmixed colour side by side to produce an 'optical mixture.'